This was an evening for congratulations all round. First for such a well chosen programme and the chance to hear pieces that are not hackneyed and given undue air time. And what a masterstroke to begin and end with a Russian composer while completing the set with English ones. There was competence and confidence throughout the orchestra who played difficult pieces with such grace that they appeared easy. The choice of a saxophone concerto was something to be thankful for. How many of the audience had heard it before, I wonder? And yet it was so lyrical that I am sure we will want to hear it again. Which leaves me to mention the soloist. He was so talented and accomplished that I could have sat and listened to him all night. How many more such soloists will be brought before us at Sudbury. Finally to the leader and conductor as well as all the players, once again our congratulations and thanks. We are lucky to have you all.
Sudbury Symphony Orchestra continues to flourish and to find excellent soloists to entertain us. Thomas Isaac’s performance as soloist in Haydn’s Cello Concerto was nothing short of delightful, especially in the lovely third movement. He was backed by the ever‐improving strings of the orchestra whose ensemble playing was excellent. Special mention also to the few non‐string players in the orchestra for this work whose deft touch added colour. The horns were exceptional, they were never overpowering and always perfectly in sympathy with the soloist.
The entire orchestra returned for Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony and once again the horns led us into this very tuneful work. This was a very accomplished performance with all sections of the orchestra following a very clear beat given by the conductor who at all times was in charge. They deserved the applause given by a well satisfied audience who, I think, appreciated both the time of the performance and the new format of the programme.
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto no. 2 in C minor, op. 18 | Beethoven: Symphony no. 4 in B flat, op. 60
A review of our March 2015 concert, as featured in local newspapers:
What a pleasure it was to listen to tonight's performance. Beethoven's 4th symphony, not the easiest of pieces, brought out the best in all sections of the orchestra. I don't think I have heard the strings play better or with such confidence especially in the difficult 4th movement. Their conductor, Matthew Andrews, must be very pleased with the overall standard of playing, at the same time being able to rely on a superb flautist and solo clarinet and such reliable players in both brass and woodwind sections. Well done all round.
I wonder how many people in the audience first heard the Rachmaninov concerto as a background to the film Brief Encounter? I did, and like many others fell in love with it's beautiful melodies. Having heard Jill Morton at her previous appearances at Sudbury, I knew she would give a star performance and what a performance it was.
It would be invidious to single out any section of the orchestra for special praise. They all combined to make this a very special concert.
Auber: Fra Diavolo Overture | Offenbach: Les oiseaux dans la charimlle | Gounod: Ah! Je veux vivre
Delibes: Ou va la jeune Hindoue | Bizet: Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante | Dvorak: Symphony no. 8
A review of our November 2014 concert, as featured in local newspapers:
It seems a pity that orchestral concerts have to have a certain order – usually an overture first, followed by a main item. This concert could well have done with the main item first, with Catherine May’s gorgeous voice lighting up a gloomy evening. Her contribution to the proceedings should have had people leaping to their feet and throwing bouquets, while yelling ‘Brava’. I would have done it myself if I had had the nerve. But there – this is Sudbury and not the Royal Opera House. Such a soloist brought out the best in the orchestra who had struggled with their tuning in the overture and saved their best ensemble playing for the symphony, but they did back Catherine manfully and made the most of appearing with a real star performer.
Dvorak’s symphonies are all characterised by their tunefulness, but none more so than the 8th. It gets less air time on the radio than the ‘New World’ 9th which is a shame. Every section is given a chance to shine and this evening every section rose to the occasion, particularly the strings, especially in the second movement. The woodwind were good throughout, with some outstanding flute solos. The brass were enjoying themselves and opened the fourth movement with panache.
A very enjoyable concert presided over by an excellent conductor who brings out the best in his musicians.
Bethoven: Coriolan Overture | Weber: Clarinet Concerto | Schubert: Symphony no. 6
A review of our March 2014 concert, as featured in local newspapers:
It seems that Sudbury Symphony Orchestra has a never-ending supply of superb soloists whom they bring to delight us at their concerts: tonight was no exception. Anthony Bailey’s wonderful rendition of Weber’s Clarinet Concerto was high among the long list of excellent performances that we have come to expect of the orchestra. He was supported by an accompaniment of the highest quality, particularly from the horns, and a light touch from everyone who should all feel proud of this performance.
The sparkle of Weber followed Beethoven at his most solemn – perhaps the programme was planned to show how the orchestra could cope with an extreme change in mood – but they did cope admirably. I thought the tempo of ‘Coriolan’ was slower than usual but it was a worthy performance.
The final work in the concert was Schubert’s 6th Symphony, a succession of good tunes, mostly lively and joyful – a mood that the orchestra was able to interpret beautifully. The ensemble playing was good and the various sections intermeshed with one another effortlessly. It would be invidious to single out any section as this was a combined effort in which all players performed exceptionally well under a conductor who, as usual, led them superbly.
Humperdinck: Hansel & Gretel Overture | Bruch: Kol Nidrei | Faure: Elegie | Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherezade
A review of our November 2013 concert, as featured in local newspapers:
There was a very short first half to this concert, but it was packed with beautiful playing from all sections of this ever improving orchestra, and left me wondering how the programme selectors always manage to find little known pieces that are really deserving of more attention. Where do they find such excellent soloists?
The concert began with the overture to Hansel and Gretel, for which the conductor singled out the horns for special applause; they deserved it for the faultless playing of the opening bars, but the whole orchestra followed their lead (and his) for an enchanting and tuneful performance.
Chris Slatter, a cellist of great promise, performed two solo pieces of which Kol Nidrei by Bruch, was so moving that the audience seemed reluctant to break the spell with their applause. This piece alone was worth coming out for. Well done to those who chose it and those who played it so well.
The fact that Rimsky Korsakov's Sheherezade is relatively well known (I blame Paul Temple) makes us forget how difficult it is to play, with fiendishly difficult solos and constant change of tempo. Sudbury orchestra rose to the occasion with a procession of really well played solos of which the leader's was outstanding.
Thank you Conductor, Soloist and Leader for an excellent evening.